tv NOW With Alex Wagner MSNBC October 8, 2012 9:00am-10:00am PDT
but it is our responsibility and the responsibility of the president to use america's greatest power to shape history. not to lead from behind. leaving our destiny at the mercy of events. unfortunately, that's exactly where we find ourselves in the middle east under president obama. >> more broadly, romney boiled down the president's foreign policy to one of hope. >> i know the president hoped for a more prosperous middle east aligned with us. i share this hope. but hope is not a strategy. we can't support our friends and defeat our enemies in the middle east when words rbt backed up by deeds. when defense spending the being cut. when we have no trade agenda to speak of and our strategy isn't one of partnership but of passive ti. >> on actual foreign policy his specifics were thin amounting to deepening critical cooperation and reaffirming historic ties.
susan glasser, your overall assessment of mitt romney? there was no shortage of criticism for the president. what did you make of the prescriptions romney was laying out? >> thanks, alex. you made an important point to say this isn't necessarily a fully formed recipe for what a rom uh any administration would look like. he's seeking to gain a campaign advantage over president obama rather than outline a fully formed foreign policy. i think you didn't see that today. in fact, in many ways it's still not clear whether there is much of a difference in a policy sense between barack obama and mitt romney. >> dave wood, our war correspondent extraordinaire there will be talk affidavit war in afghanistan. mitt romney had words about the president's treatment of iraq. let's focus on the afghanistan question. it's the 11-year anniversary of the war, yesterday, i believe.
mitt romney had an interesting romneyesque take on afghanistan saying he would pursue a real and successful transition to the afghan security forces by the end of 2014 and goes on to say outlining an exit date is pricely the misstep the president made. let's play that sound if we have it. >> in afghanistan, i will pursue a real and successful transition to afghan security forces by the end of 2014. president obama would have you believe anyone who disagrees with his decisions in afghanistan is arguing for endless war. but the route to war and to potential attacks at home is a politically timed retreat that abandons the afghan people to the same extremists who aravage their country. i will evaluate conditions on the ground and weigh the best advice of our military commanders. >> to me that sounds like mitt
romney is suggesting he'll do exactly what the president is doing. do you have a different interpretation? >> i didn't. i tried to look at the speech through the eyes of a combat soldier. the most interesting thing he said, i thought, was ha hope is not a strategy, but rhetoric isn't either. it was a gigantic missed opportunity to outline really finite fundamental and specific strategies for dealing with the problems he so ably described. in afghanistan, for example, there is a real mess there in the sense that negotiations clearly aren't going to happen. we're not training the afghans fast enough to really pick up after 2014 when we are supposed to have withdrawn combat troops. there is no plan for what happens after december 2014 and the whole thing has fallen into
a messy, bloody stalemate. i was looking to romney to provide some glimmer of a way out of that. whether it was endorsing fast track negotiations, whatever it was. i was looking for a plan. i didn't find it there or other things he mentioned. the one specific thing he mentioned about the middle east after calling for a new national security strategy there was to say he would have all u.s. aid funneled through one official. >> richard wolf, i tried to under line in my copy of the speech the moments when it was a period where mitt romney might say something substantive but i found it lacking. i will put the leaders of iran on notice that the u.s. and our friends and allies will prevent e them from acquiring nuclear weapons, i will deepen critical cooperation with partners in the gulf. not a lot here that isn't stuff
that's already been floated. these are positions the president, i think would agree should be taken. >> if you are going to unveil ab address at this point you better have the goods. never mind next week's foreign policy debate with the president. this mitt romney needs to debate the old mitt romney as well. on each of these things he's taken the opposite position. there's an extended criticism of the president's take on syria, for instance. yet this is the same mitt romney who also said getting involved with libya would be mission creep. he opposed that in one country and now proposes it somewhere else. the point of consistent for him is israel. to pa are a phrase joe biden every foreign policy sentence has a noun, verb and the word israel in it. when it comes to the actual position saying a president
needs to be involved in the middle east, it's drifted, that's true about the peace process. this is the same mitt romney, i believe, who was taped talking about the 47% and said, you know, when it comes to the middle east it's never going to happen. i will leave it to the next guy. >> we have that. let's listen to what mitt romney. almost literally said to kick the can down the road. this is part of the infamous 47% videotape taken surreptitiously in florida this year. let's listen to what he said about palestine. >> i look at the palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of israel and these issues and i say there is just no way. so you move things along the best way you can, hope for some degree of stability but recognize this is going to remain an unsolved problem. >> this is what he says today about israel and palestine. >> i will recommit america to
the goal of a democratic, prosperous palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the jewish state of israel e. on this issue the president has failed. what should be a negotiation has devolved into heated his disputes in the u.n. only a new president brings the chance to begin anew. >> a new president who said i might not do anything differently. what do you make of this? >> i'm in greet with secret romney. >> on some things uh i would hope. >> it's a hard problem. how many problems have tried to solve it? everyone since cart. no one has managed. i assume the next president whether it's barack obama again or mitt romney is probably not going to do it.
this is the thing to do in speeches. we talk like we are the world's parent. the left says if we want china to say go for it on global warming or pull back on military expansionism we need to set an example. they will follow us. the republican version of this is the mean dad, right? we're going in there and we'll tell them they're grounded until they fix it. both are silly. we obviously have a strong leadership role but they are not looking at us for how to act. there is a limited amount of going out and being a shining star to the world with achieve. everyone has to say it. >> megan prings up a good point about the mean dad, softish touch mom. we have talked before on the program. there is an awkward moment in terms of foreign policy.
in terms of elucidating a line in the sand, if you will, between republican foreign policy and democratic foreign policy. there doesn't seem to be a lot of daylight on fundamental issues. >> this is an important point. actually mitt romney is a bigamistry to us when it comes to foreign policy. in part because republicans are at war amongst themselves. they are not just fighting with barack obama and democrats over what kind of foreign policy e they should have. on the one hand within romney's campaign you have neocon advisers who represent the soul and spirit of bush and cheney. you have tea party types who say let's focus on rebuilding our economy and america at home. and a third category of classic republican realists, if you will, who are more of the liberal internationalist variety. you have all these groups fighting for romney.
amazing quotes even in the new york times today from a leading republican foreign policy advocate saying basically, well, we don't know which one romney is. we'd like to say would the real mitt romney stand up. that's from his allies. there is no wonder we are confused about his policies. he has not yet resolved tension within the team. >> that same piece has unnamed romney advisers saying they have talked with him so little on national security he doesn't know where he stands. he's gone around the world in terms of his position on things. i want to talk about the iran question. romney said, i will put the leaders of iran on notice that the u.s. and our friends and allies will prevent them from acquiring nuk already lar weapons capability. i will refer you back to an abc interview september 14 where george stephanopoulos asks mitt romney about the red line and how his is different from the
president's. let's play that sound. >> what is your red line with iran? >> iran may not have a nuclear weapon. >> president obama said exactly the same thing. he said it's unacceptable for iran to have a nuclear weapon. your red line is the same? >> i laid out what i would do to keep iran from reaching the red line. >> but the red line going forward is the same. >> yes. recognize when one says it is unacceptable to the united states of america that means what it says. >> dave, what do you make of this? specifically from the perspective of those in service to this country, those seeing the theater of war and are in combat. this back and forth over a question that amounts to will we send troops to iran to prevent them from getting a nuclear a weapon. >> syria as well. i was interested to see governor romney backed off from the idea of sending american weapons to the rebels in syria. he said we'd see to it they would obtain weapons.
on the larger point you're right. there is no overlying strategy here to tie in, you know, whatever red line he defines in iran and what we do in syria and how we coordinate with israel in making sure iran doesn't obtain nuclear weapons. if i was a combat troop i would be worried. here is the guy who wants to be president of the united states who is not outlining a general strategy. where does this all fit in? how does it tie together? to be fair, i don't think the president has done that either. >> the question of the thin red line is something everybody's dancing over and around. thank you to dave wood and foreign policy magazine's susan glasser. great to have you on the show. after the break, as the race tightens governor romney and president obama show signs of
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i can't always say the same. >> that was president obama during a los angeles fund-raiser last night acknowledging that his debate performance didn't live up to hollywood standards. governor romney is trying to keep his debate act alive shedding his wooden image for a more human mitt. he told the emotional story of helping a young member of the mormon church who was dying of leukemia. >> through all this david had the kind of strength and courage and maturity you see in so many of our young people, so many of the people in this great nation of ours. i thought of the wonderful slogan later, clear eyes, full heart, can't lose. >> joining the panel now ar ari melver of the nation and nicholas cantasori of the new york times t. yes. >> that's who he is.
>> let's talk about the strategy. the president, just forget about wednesday. think about friday. mitt romney forget about friday, remember wednesday. who is selling themselves better this week in your opinion? >> mitt romney is doing a great job shaking the etch-a-sketch. this is the candidate he meant to be. >> or hoped to be. >> or hoped to be. i was thinking of the debate and how astonished president obama was to see this guy. where's this guy been? even talking about the canned receive reference to a tv show it's kind of canned, right? you can see him in the flow a little bit. it sounds pretty good. can the president recover and be the casual loose guy? probably. we'll see in a couple of days. >> even the clip we played setting aside the "friday night lights" reference. hard for me to say anything
criminal about that but mitt romney looked dishevelled, sweaty. those stories of how he worked with some of his brethren in the mormon church are moving and a lot of us thought, why has this not been a foundational aspect of your campaign. the new illustration on the corner of the new yorker shows mitt romney debating with an empty chair. a referendum on the president's performance. that said the president raised $181 million in september and unemployment is below 8%. >> the problem for the president isn't what's happening with the int interpretation of what's happening. perception becomes reality. i didn't think his debate performance was terrible. if uh you look at the gallup numbers since the advent of television debates i don't think polling shows great shock to what's deemed a negative performance. but when you have a big bad moment, a youtube cli clip or a
sound bite that hurts you that can reverberate. i don't see anything in the debate or the empty chair that will stick with him for a long time. the problem is the media and the public now feeling that somehow the race has ifevened up. i don't think that's true. people are already voting. 31% of votes started. obama is leading that. the interpretation is a problem. >> couldn't also the fact that the president was so roundly criticized for the debate performance and there is a sense on the left that, oh, my god he has to get his game back. couldn't that be good for him? right now in terms of highly interested voters 79% of the gop compared to 70% in 2008. for democrats, 70% interested now compared to 83% in 2008. maybe out's good for democrats to feel the heat and go to the polls.
>> it's good to feel they are losing. i beg to differ with my learned counsel over there, but the race has tightened up. that's what we saw in 2004 as well. john kerry was six to eight points behind before the first debate. he turned in a strong performance and the race narrowed to two points. almost identical to what we are seeing now. the polls have moved and what happened was he improved his performance and the polls opened audiotape bit. not as much as predebate but enough to get a two or three-point victory in the end. do democrats need to feel the race is closer than before the debate? absolutely. turnout is key. more importantly the president does as well. this is a repeated pattern. when things were within reach in the primary phase he let it fall out of his grasp. not once, not twice. three, four, five times.
he only raises his game at the last minute. frankly, i think his performance -- you may have felt he aced it or wasn't so bad -- >> i don't know that ari said he aced it. he said, i don't think it was as bad as everybody thinks. >> you must be a good debater as i don't recognize my position. >> being the super competitive individual he is i expect him to. but mitt romney now has to live up to expectations. he has a different point of comparison, too. >> the thing about poor mitt romney, in the first debate you have to represent, bring the a-game. he did and now, you really have to represent again. no room for error. >> he basically doesn't. to some extent neither candidate does. the electorate is split now almost evenly. you're fighting for a tiny slice of the electorate.
when you look at the enthusiasm at this point republicans don't care. if uh you put a tin can up. >> a cement bag with an r on it. >> democrats are rallying. this guy is crazy. he's going to outlaw birth control and you're going to end up, you know, living in some, like, gigantic mega church. the problem is the enthusiasm gap he was like, hey, not crazy. look, i moved to the center. i watched the debate in an airport. so i will say that -- >> is that a humble brag? >> it wasn't intentional. >> i'm so busy -- >> american airlines delayed our flights. they are having an issue. >> that's a conspiracy from chicago as you know. >> indeed. half of the democrats are visibly -- ooh! and the pubs are fist bumping and everyone was glued to the television. >> in the airport? >> in the airport.
>> what happens then at the dallas airport, nick, when joe biden debates paul ryan? i literally have no idea what's going to happen. >> i can't wait to watch this debate. i want to watch it so much more than the presidents. when joe biden was a vp candidate in 2008 he wasn't well defined. now he has a larger than life persona to live up to. so does ryan. >> joe biden had a reputation in congress. >> now he's in the onion. >> steve schmidt says there is no sympathetic character up there with biden this time which is to say there is no sarah palin. biden will bring his proverbial none chucks and brass knuckles. >> i think literally. >> there was a lot of talk about the gender dynamics and how biden couldn't go on the attack. paul ryan is a young dude but has a congressional record he's
basically semi sort of or not at all running on depending on the day. we know joe bind has a copy of "young guns". >> do you think he's reading it? >> i do. >> you have someone who's risen up through the ranks of the policy wong wonkery on the right and someone with a natural feel with people. it will be great to see those police station come through head to head, especially when it comes to paul ryan and mitt romney's budget plans. for seniors that single group joe biden can reach no one else on the ticket can reach. when it comes to the voters, i think joe biden has the opportunity to cut through the wonkery which both presidential candidates immersed themselves in. he can cut through and say this is what it means for real older people. yes, if you're 55, pay
attention. this is coming to you. >> joe biden has to separate out the view of the skeptical e lkt rat and say you're attacking paul ryan because he's your opponent. or are you attacking ideas because they were bad ideas long before it became perhaps politically advantage wous to attack them. alex, you talked about the heartlessness of the ryan budget months before he became a household name. >> i was there first. >> that's different for someone watching who says, this is the same old washington thing. they want to defeat thim. that's the challenge for biden. long before anyone heard of paul ryan we were afraid of paul ryan because we were afraid of what he wants to do to uh you, health care and a heartless approach to balancing the budget. >> when you talk about economic pain and the squeezing of seniors or the fraying of the fabric of the american social
compact joe biden can speak with a romance, eloquence and an incredibly compelling narrative. >> but he's always the wild card. >> i expect 20 e-mails from the romney campaign proclaiming everything he said to be a gaffe. >> coming up, the growing chorus of doubt mon goring about the job reports points to a society where facts are debatable. how have conspiracy theorists eroded trust in government? mike rowe here at a ford tell me fiona, who's having a big tire event? your ford dealer. who has 11 major brands to choose from? your ford dealer. who's offering a rebate? your ford dealer. who has the low price tire guarantee... affording peace of mind to anyone who might be in the market for a new set of tires? your ford dealer. i'm beginning to sense a pattern. buy four select tires, get a $60 rebate.
my name is adam frucci and i'm the i love new technology,om. so when i heard that american express and twitter were teaming up, i was pretty interested. turns out you just sync your american express card securely to your twitter account, tweet specific hashtags, and you'll get offers on things you love. this totally changes the way i think about membership. saving money on the things you want. to me, that's the membership effect. nice boots! former ceo jack welch was the first to say there was a conspiracy with the jobs report. he claimed the chicago guys fiddled with the numbers but that didn't stop him from
doubling down. >> i know these numbers are gathered by a series of wild assumptions. maybe they weren't right at 8.5, at 8.4. but it seems coincidental that one month before the election they would end up at 7.8. i don't want to take back one word of that tweet. >> remind you of anything? we'll discuss the first cousin of the birther movement, the jobbers. and a look at america's trust issues next on "now." [ female announcer ] most whitening strips
got the jobber conspiracy theory going with a tweet suggesting chicago manipulated the idea followed by a chorus of conservative commentator. >> in a move beneath the dignity of the oval office it would appear the obama administration altered the monthly jobs report. >> we learned today two of the leading economists are big obama donors. now that doesn't mean anything. of course not. nothing to see there. >> in media interviews welch decided to double down. >> what evidence -- >> i have no evidence. >> you don't have evidence. it's one thing to doubt the numbers. >> i used question marks last night. >> these chicago guys will do anything. no question mark. you wish you -- you don't stand by -- >> oh, i i stand by it.
>> he didn't say the data was manipulated but mitt romney appeared with congressman alan west of florida. romney used his own math to explain the new jobs numbers. >> if we calculated our unemployment rate in a way that was consistent with the way it was calculated with the way he came into office it would be a different number. if p the percentage of the american people in the work force were the same today the unemployment rate would be above 11%. >> on "meet the press" sunday chuck todd lamented the rise of conspiracy minded nonsense and the cline of facts. >> the federal reserve is questioned for politics. the supreme court and john roberts. we have corroded what we are doing. we are corroding trust in our government in a way. one time responsible people are doing to control it. the idea that donald trump and jack welch, rich people with
crazy conspiracies can get traction on this. >> ari, i want to talk first about this. we talked about institutional failure. what's happening now is the airing of conspiracy theories as fact. whether or not you choose to believe them. i think it undermined the notion that there even is such a thing as a fact anymore. that was incredibly bold of fox to go forward with the notion that chicago has manipulated the numbers from the bls. there is no questioning on this. >> you see the difference. rush limbaugh was trafficking in conspiracy ideas to lead his audience to the conclusion where sean hannidy got up there and lied. there has always been public discourse. one is the bias where people only listen to what confirms
their beliefs. the second is what you would call the big shot bubble which was a big piece and slate talked about this. powerful people with big mega phones who don't have anyone disagreeing with their crazy ideas and falsehoods. mr. walsh is a respected man. that's uncontested. but he is spewing a kind of falsehood and dance that's, as chuck said, incredibly corrosive. who are we supposed to rely on to figure out the baseline discussion of economics and business if not the business leaders separate from politics and ideology. the problem is the referees and this is a point i'm sure some disagree with, but the referees have to figure out how to call it without worrying if it looks partisan. you have to get in there and say it's not just terrible.
it's terrible because people supporting mitt romney are trying to confuse everyone. >> we talked about this earlier. donald trump is out with birther nonsense. if not playing an outsized role on the national dialogue they are playing a role in funding campaigns or super pacs with great influence. >> i covered dopers most of the time. you imagine somebody that's the ceo of a business would be a well informed sophisticated person about politics as donors. they often are but often aren't. sheldon adelson is reading "the amateur," a book filled with -- it's a terrible book. he's reading this to get his understanding of obama. the guy who he wants to spend $100 million to beat. it's the big shot bubble. these are people and no one tells uh you you're wrong, that's crazy.
it goes back to the debate. one of the best stories for why incumbents do poorly is for four years no one told them they're wrong, doing terrible. out's a great job, sir. to have a guy get in your face on the debate stage and rip into you is a new experience. >> you could argue the reverse of that, too. obama has to run on facts and answer to facts where mitt romney can say, i'm going to move the oval office to the top of the washington monument and there will be soda in the water fountains. >> he has to defend his record. that changes things for incumbents as well. >> mitt romney said on wednesday, mr. president, you are not entitled to your own facts. both sides said it. now there is an argument over what the facts are. when we talk about bipartisanship, how do you reach compromise? >> it's a fund mental problem for sure.
also a problem when you have politicians who, frankly, have taken centrist positions, lot of positions. if you're going out there as mitt romney did and say, i am the bipartisan healer. i can find compromise, you cannot. you have to talk, communicate in ways that suggest you will do that. it's not enough to say, i'm strong, i'm a leader. you have to be reasonable in that debate. for him to say when the numbers come down they are outrageous. if the numbers are high, that's cool. that leaves you no room to find middle ground. you're poisoning the well for the next time you're in government and in office. that's the danger we have here. it's all short-term. everything we have seen especially from the romney campaign is about the group of people he's with at that time.
he's a moderate guy in a debate talking to other people. the next day or with donors it's whatever you need. nos prague ma timpl. it's pretzelism. >> oh, pretzelism is good. find your own numbers. don't like the tax policy numbers, find your own. there is a lot of that going on. >> in fairness i think what mitt romney said is defensible in the sense that, in fact, we have seen millions of people drop out of the labor force. if they hadn't dropped out and they seem to have because -- some is anyonie i aging but a l find jobs. that's a fair thing to say. >> he's on stage alan west who on friday suggests this was part of leftist radicalism at work and part of the chicago machine manipulating labor statistics. >> indeed.
then there are the crazy people. >> that speaks volumes. >> he probably didn't pick the appearance knowing what the jobs figures would be. i think it's fair to say the economy has been bachltd obama doesn't have much to do with it. the president can't do that much to control the economy. but four years ago obama got to run saying, they drove it into the ditch, i can drive it out. then it turns out he can't. now the next guy gets to say, i can drive it out. he also can't drive it out, but this is the ritual every four oh eight years as someone promises they are the special healer who can put their hands on the economy and make it all right again. >> i i think megan is gliding past the problem. this is an illustration of the problem. you can glide past alan west, donald trump, a lot of the people mitt romney who wants to be president has chosen to deeply associate and work with
and legitimize. that tells us who he wants to be with as he chose them for the cabinet and everything else. liberals said for a long time that's an issue with how we measure this. that's in the two surveys. but the point is they are alleging another con spir p si to rile people up with lies. that's the problem. >> this is true. it's crazy to suggest anyone manage -- first of all, these are people who think everything in government is like the d mrk v. it's crazy to suggest they can manage the big conspiracy. that said, harry reid got up there and said, i know mitt romney paid 0%, no taxes in at least one year or maybe for ten years. i had an enormous number of tax experts saying, yeah, no, that's really unlikely and all of these smart academics saying, well,
you know, it's kind of conceivable. >> i think it's a little bit different from trying to undermine the bureau of economic data coming out. mitt romney has been secretive. it was a campaign tactic to get more tax returns. was it damaging -- >> the senate majority leader is -- >> the senate majority leader is airing something for which there is no evidence. floating gossip and a rumor. it's different but not necessary thely better or worse. they're both bad. >> i would beg to differ. ari? >> i understand you are both trying to come to an about tif conclusion, but the conclusion -- this is my opinion. >> is subjective. >> this pursuit is prioritizing a type of balance and a false equivalency over the problem. harry reid was using a source he wouldn't identify.
a problem with an accusation. i don't think that's at all e equivalent to the type of lies and attacks that alleged conspiracies about the bureau of labor statistics and conspira conspiracies about where the president is born. >> in reality, we want to know who's behind the bls numbers it's richard wolf. >> it's vls and it's me e. >> take your pick. coming up, speaking duck. john boehner let it is air out of the balloon in october. we'll preview what could be a really lame duck session just ahead. [ female announcer ] need help keeping your digestive balance? try the #1 gastroenterologist recommended probiotic. align. align naturally helps maintain digestive balance. ♪ ooh, baby, can i do for you today? ♪ try align today.
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oh, hey alex. just picking up some, brochures, posters copies of my acceptance speech. great! it's always good to have a backup plan, in case i get hit by a meteor. wow, your hair looks great. didn't realize they did photoshop here. hey, good call on those mugs. can't let 'em see what you're drinking.
you know, i'm glad we're both running a nice, clean race. no need to get nasty. here's your "honk if you had an affair with taylor" yard sign. looks good. [ male announcer ] fedex office. now save 50% on banners. welcome back. time for "what now." john boehner is rowlowering expectations saying the deficit deal probably won't happen when congress returns after the election. it's not called lame duck for nothing. but surprising absolutely no one, everyone will wait to see how who the president will be, who's sitting in the oval office. >> yeah.
look, the only reason -- well, two reasons you think this whole fiscal mess gets solved in this period is, one, because they have rather large, looming deadlines like the markets wanted it to happen and tax rates will go up and defense cuts mitt romney thinks are intentional -- never mind. is other reason the such difficult decisions they want to blame it on the old congress. whoever is president, that will still will true. i say the deal gets done. if not the whole thing sh it's because people think if you go beyond the deadline. tax rates go up for a week or two they will get a better deal. who knows? >> if you want to get a vote out of people they are worried about casting to lose office and they have already lost. >> blame the other people. >> do you know where there is bipartisanship? with i will o'reilly and jon stewart who had the rumble in
the air conditioned auditorium. they talked about social security. at one point jon stewart sat in bill o'reilly's lap. why can't congress be like that? cats and dogs can get alongment. >> they are older, more frail. jumped into their lap. it might twist something. >> that's taking the lowest card from the dechblgt nick, comments? >> don't get any ideas. >> that beautiful moment. >> someone needs one of those podiums. anyway. thank you to ari, megan, nicholas and richard. see you tomorrow at noon when i'm joined by john hileman, mother jones and host of fx's totally biased. until then find us at facebook.ca. an degree midrea mitchell repor. >> coming up, mitt romney talks tough in today's foreign policy
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